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NewSouth mourns the passing of Paul Gaston of Fairhope, esteemed Southern historian

Monday, July 29th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

We are sorry to share news of the passing of Paul M. Gaston, civil rights activist and esteemed Southern historian, who died last month at the age of 91. NewSouth enjoyed a long friendship with Gaston, forged over many years and glasses of wine, which extended across the publication of a half dozen of his books. Our relationship with him began in the early days of NewSouth Books, when Gaston had already changed the lives of dozens of students through his astute observations on the 5d0c3a79353b5.imagetrue character of the South and in his activities at the University of Virginia. Gaston was both a superb writer and thinker. He leaves behind many influential works, among them The New South Creed: A Study in Southern Mythmaking, now considered a classic. This brilliant work tackles the ways in which socially constructed realities shape historical understanding. Other titles by Gaston include Coming of Age in Utopia, his memoir; Man and Mission: E.B. Gaston and the Origins of the Fairhope Single Tax Colony; and Women of Fair Hope. Historians in Service of a Better South, also published by NewSouth, is a collection of essays written in Gaston’s honor, to which such leading historians as Ed Ayers, Matthew Lassiter, Robert J. Norrell, and many others contributed. This UVA memoriam speaks powerfully to Gaston’s legacy: https://news.virginia.edu/content/memoriam-historian-paul-gaston-early-civil-rights-activist.

American Founders sparks strong response with message about role of African-descended people in shaping our democracy

Monday, July 15th, 2019 by Suzanne La Rosa

The early praise for American Founders by Christina Proenza-Coles was, quite simply, outstanding. The book, which released from NewSouth Books in April, was blurbed by leading American historians who called the work “erudite and balanced, a feat of hemispheric synthesis and understanding” (Ben Vinson III, George Washington University, Dean of Columbian College of Arts and Sciences), and said that “it stands as a model of a new kind1588383318 of hemispheric history” (Joel Dinerstein, Tulane University, Clark Chair of American Civilization), and “gives us a stirring and sweeping history that shows how an appreciation of the freedom struggles of African-descended people changes the whole story of national histories” (David Roediger, University of Kansas, Foundation Professor of American Studies). A starred Publishers Weekly review and praise from Kirkus, Booklist, and others followed. Reviews for the book have been every bit as gratifying. Most recently, The Fayetteville Observer says the book “challenges readers to rethink our national narrative” and boldly states that “African founders helped make America great.” Author Christina Proenza-Coles has been a featured guest on radio across the country, including WOCA in Florida; KPFA in California; and WUNC in North Carolina. Lapham’s Quarterly ran a lengthy excerpt from the work, and the Journal for Blacks in Higher Education spotlighted it on a recent Books of Interest list. The Charlottesville Daily Progress published a special feature on the book and its connections to Virginia. Impeccably researched, this book that proposes a radical rethinking of the American story—suggesting that the narrative about African-descended Americans starts much earlier than is previously understood, even before the founding of our country—should continue to blaze interest and change minds. Amen to that. 

Magnificent new edition of Pickett's History of Alabama released to coincide with state Bicentennial

Monday, July 8th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Much that we know about the years leading up to and immediately after Alabama became a state, in 1819, we take from a single source, Pickett's History of Alabama, and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi, from the Earliest Period. The work by Albert J. Pickett, first published in 1851, is considered the very first history of the state. In recent years, Pickett’s History, as it is known for short, has been available chiefly in poor facsimile editions. Even so, the book has been an invaluable resource032-PH Jacket v300 300ppi for scholars studying and writing about Southeastern Indians and the expansion of the young United States into what was known as the “Old Southwest,” the present-day states of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. To celebrate Alabama’s bicentennial, NewSouth Books has published a superb new edition of the work, The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama. This magnificent volume is made possible by James P. Pate, a scholar in the field, who has devoted almost two decades to a painstaking annotation of Pickett’s original two-volume work. Dr. Pate verified Pickett’s sources; elaborated on the persons, events, and places described; and enriched the work with historical detail unknown when Pickett was writing. The work has also been fully indexed for the first time. The new edition, which carries an introduction by Dr. Pate, combines the two volumes in one and is presented in an attractive and readable wide format: Pickett’s original text and his own footnotes occupy the main part of the page, with annotations in boldface given in the margins. The result pays homage to a book that was described when it appeared nine years before the Civil War as “one of the prettiest specimens of book making ever done in America.” In an article from Alabama NewsCenter, Pate details the importance of republishing Pickett’s History: “For anyone writing about the state of Alabama — and especially the colonial, territorial, or the protohistoric record — Pickett is a very critical source that is not readily available.” (https://alabamanewscenter.com/2018/10/10/picketts-history-alabama-re-released-month/) Praise for the work has come from many quarters. Dr. Ed Bridges, the former director of Alabama Department of Archives and History, graciously calls The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama “its own historic event.” Dr. Pate is one of a dozen writers and historians selected by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission (AL200) to speak about topics related to our state history in this Bicentennial year (https://www.al.com/life/2019/02/alabama-bicentennial-13-authors-to-offer-insights-on-state.html).

Message of reconciliation in The Road to Healing reaches thinkers from Virginia to Paris

Friday, June 21st, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

The discussion on reparations for slavery and civil rights violations in America has perhaps never reached such a fever pitch as it is during the 2020 election cycle. Just this week, 2020 nominee Cory Booker and author Ta-Nehisi Coates testified before Congress on the necessary justice that reparations would bring to the African American community and the lasting legacy that slavery has in America today. Joining this roiling discussion is Ken Woodley, former editor of the Farmville Herald in Virginia and author of The Road to Healing: A Civil Rights Reparations Story in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Woodley campaigned for civil rights reparations in Prince Edward County after learning that the county closed their public schools in reaction to the Brown vs Board decision. Woodley’s crusade resulted in a state-wide scholarship program for those who had their right to education taken from them, a victory that Julian Bond called the first real civil rights reparations in the United States. Since the release of his book in April, Woodley’s account has brought him into the international conversation on reparations. Woodley’s perspective has been featured on Joshua Johnson’s 1A; the Community Watch program on D.C.’s WPFW; Detroit Today; The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Virginia; and The Richmond Times Dispatch. Woodley was also a guest of honor at a panel featuring former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hosted by the Democratic Party of Virginia and held at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center in Richmond, Virginia. The panel is dedicated to Barbara Rose Johns, a community organizer in Prince Edward County and key figure in The Road to Healing. Woodley’s take on reparations was internationally considered in Le Monde alongside the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. The passion for justice and reconciliation that Woodley holds should be viewed as a basic civil duty, and we commend Woodley for his dedication.

Barry Alexander Brown, Spike Lee team up on movie project based on Bob Zellner book

Monday, June 10th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Legendary civil rights activist Bob Zellner gained a loyal cadre of fans after the publication of his award-winning memoir The Wrong Side of Murder Creek in 2011, a book which was recently re-released in trade paperback, but the story will reach an entirely new audience with the production of Son of the South, a movie based on his book that is due out in fall 2019. Barry Alexander Brown and Spike Lee team up on 222-2 TWSMC fcover 300dpi project, with Brown directing and Lee signed on as executive producer; Brown has worked with Lee for more than 30 years, serving as editor on almost every film Lee has made. Brown met Bob Zellner twenty years ago and was fascinated by the civil rights activist’s story of redemption. He has adapted Zellner’s memoir into a biographical film, covering Zellner’s life from his time as a youth (he was born into a Klan family) to his becoming the first white field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The film features two rising stars in Lucas Till and Lucy Hale, both well-known for their roles in the hit TV shows MacGyver and Pretty Little Liars, respectively. Till plays Zellner with the passion and commitment to civil and human rights causes that the subject retains in his 80th year. To film one exciting scene, Brown and crew reenacted the tragic beating the Freedom Riders suffered in Montgomery outside of the actual Greyhound bus station where the historic event took place. Read more about Son of the South at the Hollywood Reporter and Variety (https://bit.ly/2WFJ9sI; https://bit.ly/31qwTe3), at AL.com, and also enjoy a special documentary interview with Barry Brown from Germantown High School’s student-led news program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV6UgFEaxF4.

Frye Gaillard tours nationally with A Hard Rain

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

There are many ways in which Frye Gaillard has been a great NewSouth Books author and friend, not the least of which has been his adventurous spirit and willingness to travel with his books. With six in all published by NewSouth (and two more forthcoming), he has had many reasons to be on the road, but interest and critical reviews for his masterwork on the 1960s, A Hard Rain, have brought him opportunities from coast to coast. He’s had wonderful events at such far-flung places as the Ford Hall Forum in Boston, Brown University in Providence, the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Newseum in Washington, DC, JimmyIMG_8606
Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, and David Brower Center in Berkeley, California. And he’s made appearances at a long list of bookstores, including such favorites as Park Road Books, Malaprop’s, Prairie Lights, and Page and Palette, and some new ones too: in Portland, Oregon, he stopped at Rose City Book Pub, where his book talk was wonderfully received. Recently he had the great pleasure to participate in Greensboro Bound, a book festival in Greensboro, North Carolina, organized by Scuppernong Books. Coincidentally, Frye’s program was held at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which occupies the former Woolworth’s building, where the lunch-counter sit-ins discussed in the very first pages of A Hard Rain took place. Frye was moved to be in that hallowed space. And suddenly it seemed as if the miles had returned him to where he’d started with A Hard Rain. Metaphorically speaking, that is. What an amazing journey it has been.

 

Books and BBQ: Preview a Story from L’Chaim and Lamentations by Craig Darch, to be released in August

Friday, May 24th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Whatever your plans for this coming Memorial Day weekend, we hope you make time to spend with a book. Allow us to preview a quite special one NewSouth will publish in August. It’s a collection of short stories titled L’Chaim and Lamentions by Craig Darch. With stirring Jewish inflection, Darch’s work speaks about the value of family and community, exploring universal themes of companionship and loneliness, faith and perseverance. These stories detail the lives of the powerful and confident, but also the struggle of the modest and the determined, people doing the best they can to get by. Blurbs for this book by Craig Darch should whet your appetite. Read this one by Seth Greenland, author of The Hazards of Good Fortune, which we quite like: “Warm, satisfying, and evocative of lost times, Craig Darch’s stories are the literary equivalent of my grandmother’s kugel, with far fewer calories.” Happy holiday! 

New Jack Brooks political bio subject of KSTX story; Nancy Pelosi, others turn out for gala DC book launch event

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

72ppi 1588383210If you think history doesn’t repeat itself, read again. David Martin Davies at Texas Public Radio spoke to author Brendan McNulty about the life of legendary Texas Congressman Jack Brooks, as told in a new book – The Meanest Man in Congress: Jack Brooks and the Making of an American Century – exploring how the impeachment proceedings that faced Richard Nixon during Brooks’s tenure in D.C. may bear considering again today (https://bit.ly/2YESCge). Brooks served in Congress under ten presidents in a remarkable career that spanned five decades, mentoring a younger generation of Congressmen and women including Nancy Pelosi. As Speaker Pelosi observes in her blurb for the book, “Jack had no fear of unpopular opinions or of reaching across the aisle to pursue the common good. His principled leadership and political courage, richly chronicled in this first biography of his life, are an extraordinary legacy.” Pelosi, along with the likes of Randy Weber, Brian Babin, Greg Laughlin, and many others in the halls of power, were also special guests at a D.C. launch party this week for The Meanest Man in Congress. The gala is the subject of this fantastic piece in The Hill: https://bit.ly/2HwHpc3.

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Author Foster Dickson bridges school borders in the name of sustainability

Monday, May 20th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Foster Dickson is many things: a writer, an English teacher, a Southerner, and a former NewSouth staffer. He’s taught at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, Alabama, for many years now, but he recently embarked on a new project aimed at educating his students about environmental sustainability, especiallyAuthor Foster Dickson with respect to the production of food. Foster started a gardening club a few years ago, talking to students about how one can grow a garden and helping them to see sustainability as a social justice issue. Following Booker T. Washington’s recent move to a new campus, he found himself with enough space outdoors for an official school garden. To continue his personal growth as a sustainability educator and advocate, Foster has joined forces with Loveless Academic Magnet English teacher Gina Aaij and will attend the Rob and Melani Walton National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy in Montana. “Since neither Gina nor I are science teachers, I thought we were a long shot to get in,” he said. Foster’s new book Closed Ranks: The Whitehurst Case in Post-Civil Rights Montgomery is an example of his other social justice work, as he struggled to bring the true story behind Bernard Whitehurst’s killing at the hands of a Montgomery police officer to light. About his book historian Richard Bailey says, “Foster Dickson has pulled together every possible resource to afford Bernard Whitehurst Jr. the sense of justice surrounding his death that he never received in life.”

Aileen Kilgore Henderson awarded Druid Arts Award from the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Aileen Kilgore Henderson is much beloved in artistic and historical circles in Alabama. So we are pleased to see her work celebrated last month by the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa, which awarded her the Druid Arts 56890335_10157286392877009_4602948311190601728_o Award in the Literary Arts. The award recognizes the demonstrated quality of her body of work, her contributions to the literary community, and the overall visibility she has helped bring to the arts. Pictured here with her daughter and son-in-law, Henderson is the award-winning author of several children’s books, but it’s her Eugene Allen Smith’s Alabama we are obviously most proud of. This book published by NewSouth Books is the definitive work on Alabama’s first state geologist, who spent the better part of a lifetime traversing the state with notebook and Brownie camera in hand, documenting Alabama’s abundant natural and geological resources. Smith’s work directly contributed to the commercial and industrial development of Alabama of the late nineteenth century. Lewis Dean in his foreword to the book says, “Smith was short in stature, but a giant of1588382435 a man. He believed in progress. His life and work testify to the conviction that society and individuals can build a better world.” Like Smith, Ms. Henderson has done her state a service. Eugene Allen Smith’s Alabama reintroduces a preeminent Alabamian, who in his own time had a positive influence in shaping his native state and left an enduring legacy of science and service. We celebrate Ms. Henderson’s outstanding achievement in returning that story to us.